Questions pertaining to characteristics of armed forces' structure, manpower, equipment, or expenditures.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

4
votes
1answer
114 views

What are the modern roles of “brigadier” generals and commodores?

It has been said that the hardest jump in the military is between colonel and general. That's because a colonel is a "specialist" who commands troops of only one type (infantry, cavalry or artillery), ...
8
votes
3answers
246 views

At the Battle of Zama, was the Roman army more “native” than the Carthaginian?

At the battle of Zama, which army had a higher proportion of native troops? Within the context of this question consider troops to be either "native" or "mercenary". Native troops serve out of ...
1
vote
3answers
240 views

What was the origin of the roles of “lieutenant” officers?

A "captain" is a commander of a basic unit, a company in the military. As such, it makes sense that he will have one or more "lieutenants," first and second lieutenants that is. A major commands the ...
1
vote
2answers
282 views

What were the German “general” ranks in World War II?

The Anglo-American armies share ranks up to "full" (or four star) general. (The German army has ranks equivalent to those armies for non-general officers). The American army deviated from the English ...
5
votes
2answers
460 views

Military tactics specifically aimed against cavalry horses

Were tactics specifically aimed against horses common in past cavalry warfare and what forms did they take? For instance, did opponents try to harm (poison or shoot-them-first), distract (loud ...
4
votes
1answer
611 views

Were the “hussars” that Jan Sobieski used at the battle of Vienna actually elite troops?

Apparently, the decisive blow at the 1683 Battle of Vienna was struck by Jan Sobieski, with only 3,000 "hussars" (cavalry). This seems a bit hard to believe, given that the Turkish army had about ...
5
votes
1answer
156 views

Did the Carthaginians have the option of sending Hannibal to Sicily?

Sicily was a major focus of the First and Second Punic Wars. The first Punic war ended with Carthage handing over major grain-growing areas on the island, and the port of Lilybaem to Rome as spoils of ...
7
votes
2answers
232 views

Did the Gallic army besieged in Alesia conduct itself well when expecting relief?

During a Gallic revolution against Rome, a Gallic army of some 80,000 men took shelter in the fortress town of Alesia, where they were besieged by some 50,000 Romans under Julius Caesar. (His army may ...
9
votes
2answers
196 views

How and why did Charles XII Get to Poltava?

The decisive battle of the Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia was the battle of Poltava. That's located deep in the Ukraine, southeast of Kiev, between Cherkassy and Kharkov. That seems ...
7
votes
0answers
166 views

Were there any battles in Continental Europe that were decided by “peasants with pitchforks?”

I can think of one such battle in the British Isles; the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 in Scotland. In that battle, a 14,000-man English army despoiled a bunch of "homeless" vagrants on their way to ...
8
votes
6answers
408 views

What advantages have motorized infantry enjoyed over standard infantry besides speed?

My understanding is that motorized infantry have greater combat value than "standard" infantry (foot soldiers armed with rifles, or perhaps machine guns), over and above their greater mobility. Do ...
6
votes
5answers
420 views

What incentives are in place for American soldiers to go fight in Iraq?

I am from Brazil, a country that has not fought any war since WW2. If you join the army, go fight in Iraq and then return, what will the USA pay you? Is there a health plan for life, a pension, or ...
1
vote
1answer
120 views

Were Russian recruits ever chained?

This paper contains the following remark: Recruits were then marched off, without proper care, to a destination that might be hundreds of miles away; initially they were branded and even ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What did squires do in the middle of a medieval battle?

According to wikipedia, a normal squire daily job included: Carrying the knight's armour, shield, sword, Holding any prisoners the knight takes, Rescuing the knight should the knight be ...
8
votes
4answers
923 views

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on any other super weapon besides V-2?

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on anything else besides V-2? If so, what was it, how close was it to completion, and could it potentially turn the events around for them?
5
votes
1answer
204 views

Was the battle of Stalingrad “unique” in the annals of history?

I'm referring to the fact that BOTH sides ordered their troops to fight for the city "to the last man and last round." (Hitler). The Soviet Union's General Vasili Chuikov echoed this by saying "We ...
9
votes
5answers
4k views

Why have officers in the U.S. army tended to “top out” at the level of Major?

In the U.S. army, something like 75%-80% of newly-commissioned Second Lieutenants are promoted to First Lieutenant (around age 25), perhaps 75%-80% of First Lieutenants are promoted to Captain (ages ...
8
votes
1answer
349 views

Where did the design of the US Colonel insignia come from?

I've been trying to figure out why the insignia for a colonel in the U.S. military is an eagle. Obviously, there is the connection with the seal of the united states. But why is it used by the colonel ...
3
votes
1answer
161 views

What is “quarter column”

I'm watching a documentary on the Boer War and apparently, during the Victorian era, the British Army commonly employed their infantry in "quarter column". I've tried to look it up, but can't find ...
7
votes
1answer
182 views

What kind of armor did the soldiers use in pre-gunpowder Southeast Asia?

The tropical Southeast Asia (especially the Malay world, e.g. Malaysia/Indonesia) are very hot, and apparently wearing European-style full armor is very uncomfortable in hot climates. What kind of ...
3
votes
1answer
322 views

Missing link in the German tank development?

As you know, the Leopard 1 was not the first tank of postwar Germany. Germany work on different new tanks. There are prototypes as medium tank Indienpanzer (later developed into a Swiss KW30 and its ...
9
votes
1answer
133 views

Identification of a treacherous general of 17th century China

My aunt is part of an informal discussion group interested in the history of China. Apparently, during the Ming dynasty in the 1600s, there was a general whose treachery (I the charge was he was ...
-5
votes
1answer
63 views

Which are the most economic and military based civilizations [closed]

I've been working on an MMOSG game and wanted your opinions about which were the most economic and militarily powerful civilizations in history.
10
votes
1answer
538 views

Did the Soviet Union know when DEFCON levels changed?

The US military uses a scale of alert readiness called DEFCON, with DEFCON 5 being the lowest alert level and DEFCON 1 being the highest, preparing for imminent nuclear war. At least once during the ...
6
votes
4answers
149 views

Two Successive Coups?

Is there any country in which a coup has been overthrown by another coup? In specific I'm looking for a scenario in which: 1) A ruler was overthrown in a coup by person B 2) Person B left the ...
5
votes
2answers
140 views

Were there many instances when an “overaged” commander was at odds with a much younger second in command?

I can think of two. The first was at Stirling Bridge, in 1297 when the English outnumbered the Scots some 4 to 1, but the 72-year old English commander, John Warrenne, Earl of Surrey was not keen on ...
6
votes
1answer
145 views

British way in construction of AFV

Why have British tanks not changed very much? The USA have moved from the VSS, VVSS, HVSS (Lee and Sherman) suspensions to the torsion bar suspension (T26 and Patton family), USSR - from twin bogies ...
6
votes
5answers
271 views

Historical examples of significant no man's lands between states in perpetual conflict

What are some historical examples, if any, of large-scale (say > 10000 km squared) "no-man's lands" between states in perpetual conflict? These states would be mutually hostile, firmly divided ...
9
votes
4answers
219 views

Were there bows employed by tribes living in the desert, and if so, what were they made of?

For tribes that inhabited desert areas (e.g. Arabian Peninsula, Sahara, etc...), there seems to have been a problem: a good bow would likely require materials that would be hard to come by in the ...
10
votes
2answers
340 views

Why did the Monitor and Merrimac (aka Virginia) have such radically different designs?

This is something that's always baffled me. You have one ship that appears to sit just above the water with one little canon on a turret (the Monitor) and a second that sits high and is brimming with ...
15
votes
3answers
814 views

Was the US Navy larger in 1917, and if so, why?

Following the recent discussion in the third US Presidental Debate about the size of the Navy, there actually seemed to be a good discussion buried in there. How does the US Navy compare to its ...
14
votes
2answers
697 views

When people use spears to fight cavalry do infantry stab the horse or the rider?

I am just curious. In most games spear infantry is a "counter" against cavalry. How does that really work anyway? Any clips on actual cavalry fighting infantry that's historically accurate would be ...
8
votes
1answer
167 views

Gengkhis Khan armor secret

Gengkhis Khan the king of the Mongolian Empire used a specific kind of cloth material for his military fatigues. This cloth material worked as an armor and was an advantage for his soldiers to win ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Does the number of legs in the air of a horse statue indicate how its rider died?

I have heard that the number of legs a horse has in the air in a statue indicates how the rider died. According to what I have understood: 2 legs in the air: rider died in battle 1 leg in the air: ...
4
votes
3answers
287 views

What was the first confirmed use of black powder to blow stuff up in war (in China and in Europe)?

In this SciFi SE answer to "Can we date the technology in the Lord of the Rings movies?" , I made a statement that I wasn't able to research as fully as I'd have liked, and therefore would like a ...
15
votes
1answer
646 views

Any notable battles fought with steel vs. bronze weapons?

In answering the question Was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily much ...
11
votes
2answers
227 views

In which situation is the broadside more preferable than every gun firing on their own time?

Mathematically, a ship should be able to fire more shots if each of the cannons fire at their fastest speed, instead of waiting for everyone to be ready, but it seems that a broadside is sometimes ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

How did Medieval Armies survive the use of mail armor in the deserts of the Middle East?

Something that has long puzzled me is the use of full mail hauberks and the like in the Crusades. How did Crusaders and their various enemies avoid cooking inside their armor? I know many of them did ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Why doesn't Russia maintain significant numbers of Aircraft carriers?

The United States has 11 aircraft carriers in total. Russia has only one. We saw in the past that the USSR also didn't put much importance on constructing aircraft carriers and putting them into ...
8
votes
2answers
714 views

Why was the US so against Japanese aggression in China but did nothing about Germany in Europe?

The US was very vocal against Japanese aggression in China in the 1930's and early 1940's but said nothing against German aggression in Europe. The US finally placed an embargo on sending oil and ...
8
votes
2answers
240 views

How many soldiers were present at the charge down Little Round Top?

The events of July 2, 1863 have been discussed endlessly, from Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels to the film Gettysburg. Since reading the book and seeing the film many times, I can't help but wonder ...
2
votes
4answers
189 views

Why are the police never responsible for guarding the Head of the State?

Why does the military provide the Head of State's honor guard? Why is the Head of State always accompanied by military personnel? Why don't the police escort the Head of State?
7
votes
1answer
348 views

What is the history of standing armies in India?

Specifically, the points I am looking answers to are: 1) What is the first recorded instance of a standing army in the Indian subcontinent. 2) When did it become a general practice to have standing ...
8
votes
1answer
703 views

In WW2, which midget submarine program was the most successful?

In WW2, which midget submarine program was the most successful? I know at least Great Britain and Japan had midget submarines and used them during the course of the conflict. Which WW2 combatant had ...
4
votes
2answers
179 views

What is the origination of the Forlorn Hope?

Going back to a comment I had made in the question on What were the types of sieges something I had seen often referred to in the Bernard Cornwell Sharpe series was the Forlorn Hope. Basically these ...
5
votes
3answers
230 views

What Were the Types of Sieges?

As I understand it, there were two types of sieges. One was where the attacking army would "camp," surrounding the city, and let the defenders run out of food. An example was Ulysses S. Grant's siege ...
5
votes
1answer
142 views

Was the “Mot Pulk” formation simply a propaganda ploy?

The "Mot Pulk" was a motorized formation used by the Germans during World War II. Based on when it was introduced (after heavy defeats in the USSR) and the vague descriptions that I've found, it ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Did the U.S. and Soviet Union have a submarine battle in 1968?

There are books and articles about the Soviet submarine K-129 and the USS Scorpion in 1968, with various stories of attempted nuclear attacks and reprisals. Is there a factual narrative about these ...
7
votes
2answers
230 views

Why did Robert E. Lee stop offensive maneuvers?

According to the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Gettysburg, after that battle Robert E. Lee stopped making offensive maneuvers and rather started reacting to Union offensives. Is this 100% true, ...
11
votes
1answer
178 views

Are there examples of well known medieval battles with very little archaeological evidence?

When I was researching the history of The Battle of Kulikovo (битва на Куликовом поле), I was struck by the seemingly complete dearth of available archaeological evidence at the site of the battle ...